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Painting Special Hobby's 1/48 scale Skystreak

In the January 2011 issue, Pat explains how he mastered Special Hobby's short-run kit. Here's more information on how he painted his Skystreak.
The deceptively simple one-color scheme on Special Hobby’s 1/48 scale Douglas D558-1 Skystreak (kit No. 48080) actually requires two paint jobs. (For an in-depth look at my approach to gloss finishes, check out the March 2003 issue.) After I dusted all seams and sanded areas with Tamiya white primer in a final scratch check, I wet-sanded the model smooth using 800-grit paper. I cleared the surface of sanding residue by scrubbing with a toothbrush and a little water. The model was ready for the first paint job.

I used Model Master gloss white enamel thinned to the consistency of milk. After many light coats were applied as a base, I sprayed a heavy, wet coat almost to the point of running. After drying, I wet-sanded imperfections with 1000-grit paper. Once the model is wearing an even, shiny covering of white, it’s time for the second paint job.

Nobody seems sure of the exact shade of red the D558-1 wore. I used Testors red (No. 1103) and added a bit of yellow. Then, I thinned it and applied it over the white. For a bright color, a white base coat is a necessity. Even with several coats of color applied, the red is still transparent enough to see the difference between pure white and off-white, so the base needs to be as solid and even as you can get it.

The only other painting was a flat black anti-glare panel and the bright natural metal of the skin over the exhaust. I did this with Testors Model Master silver (No. 28003). I misted on a few coats that dried fast enough not to affect the enamel underneath. After this barrier was formed, I increased the heaviness of the application to get a good shine and left it at that.

My references said the aircraft I was building didn’t have the fancy Skystreak logo on its nose unless an exhaust extension was fitted. This should have made adding decals quick and easy. Unfortunately, the two main decals (a pair of national insignias) lay down on top of bulged speed brakes. Also, experience has taught me that rarely is the white ink of decals printed thick enough for dark or bright colors not to show through. So, I traced the outline of the star and bar decals on white decal stock to create a background for the insignia to lie on. I cut notches out of the white shapes and the insignia decals to accommodate the pronounced speed brakes. There was no way these decals were going to conform to such a large bump. To make matters more interesting, the Special Hobby decals were thin and brittle. No matter what I did, some touch-up painting was going to be involved.


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Airbrushing acrylics

Airbrushing acrylics

Tests, tips and techniques.